Times Square Bombing and NYPD

If you see something, say something.

That’s what a vendor did on 45th street when he saw Nissan Pathfinder smoking, and that’s what he wants to tell New Yorkers.

Times Square Bomb SUV

Courtesy CNN

By now, everyone’s heard about the foiled bombing attempt on Times Square in which a parked car filled with propane tanks started smoking when a bomb squad was called to handle it.  Police are still looking for the suspect at the time of this posting.

Speaking of the police, I have differing opinions on New York’s Finest.  The police officer that first found the car, while undoubtedly a fine gentleman of outstanding character, is being touted as a hero.  But what did he really do?  He looked at something he was told to investigate.  Isn’t that the job of a police officer?

I say this, because in the context of budget shortfalls, incidents like these can lead to even more panic about Bloomberg’s threat to cut the police force in the coming year from people worried about safety.  My experiences have been mixed.  I’ve seen extensive police coverage in more questionable areas of New York that I’ve been entirely grateful for, but I’ve also seen overcoverage – one example that comes to mind is the 15 police officers milling around the

NYPD in Times Square

NYPD in Times Square

Franklin Avenue 2/3/4/5 station when I come home from school.  Likewise, if it was a street vendor that noticed the smoke in the recent bombing, why couldn’t he or she have just pulled another of the dozens of officers in Times Square aside and asked them to investigate.

The question I’m getting to is this: Do more police officers = safer NY?

I’m inclined to say yes, but up to a certain threshold.  Undoubtedly the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations have proven that lots and lots of cops, compared to fewer, make the streets much safer.  But given that the last two planned terrorist attacks – Zazi and this Times Square bombing – were uncovered by other New Yorkers and reported to the police, I have to wonder if shaving off some police officers will really hit the department as hard people say it will.

Is it really that much to worry about?

What do you say, fellow New Yorkers??? (or non-fellow New Yorkers for that matter!)

Aw, Rats!

Non-breaking news alert – we’re broke.

Across the board the city is having to do some serious cutting to make a passable budget by this summer.  I cover the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for my urban political writing class, and trolling the stats on nyc.gov the past couple of weeks has produced some interesting facts on pest control:

Rat Runs Under Girls Feet

Photo Courtesy New York Times

– From 2009 to 2010, the Department performed roughly 50% fewer exterminations.

– The number of buildings failing inspections because of rats went up 6%.

– Community Boards Bronx 1-5 all requested additional help with pest abatement in the 2011 budget.

and…….

– The Department wants to cut pest control workers from 84 down to 27 in 2011 – a 68% cut.

I’m sorry.  I realize that no one wants to have to make cuts, but this seems like a really bad idea.  I’m sure rats love the idea, though, and are reminiscing ’bout the good ol’ days:

The union that represents the pest control workers suggested as an alternative that they fine the properties that need the abatement.  I understand the thinking, but I think it will be a difficult task considering the biggest hot spots are vacant lots, foreclosed homes, and city-owned properties.

Commissioner Thomas Farley said they were going to strategically target the areas with the most rats.  AKA they’ll only be able to cover the worst hit lots and properties.

It might be a good time to adopt a cat…..